Wedding Ensemble, 1878, AmericanMet Museum


While white is now de rigueur for bridal attire, the fashion for white wedding gowns originated only in the late 19th century and was not commonplace until the 20th century. This dress is a good example of the more practical 19th century practice of brides wearing colored gowns for weddings. The wedding dresses could then be worn again for other receptions and social events. A well-made and finely-detailed example of the period, this dress would have been described as a “cuirass” or “cuirass style” at the time it was made, a term that refers to the form-fitted bodice. A steel-boned corset helped to achieve the ideal figure for the cuirass style in the 1870s and 1880s.

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Wedding Ensemble, 1878, American
Met Museum

While white is now de rigueur for bridal attire, the fashion for white wedding gowns originated only in the late 19th century and was not commonplace until the 20th century. This dress is a good example of the more practical 19th century practice of brides wearing colored gowns for weddings. The wedding dresses could then be worn again for other receptions and social events. A well-made and finely-detailed example of the period, this dress would have been described as a “cuirass” or “cuirass style” at the time it was made, a term that refers to the form-fitted bodice. A steel-boned corset helped to achieve the ideal figure for the cuirass style in the 1870s and 1880s.

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